“It’s my hot body, I do what I want.”
By Nicole Creguer
Chameleon Staff Writer
The word “slut” has been around for centuries. It is meant as a derogatory insult primarily toward women.
Nowadays, however, women are protesting for the right to be called a slut in peaceful protest marches called “SlutWalks.”
The SlutWalk movement started in Ontario, Canada in January 2011. Policeman Michael Sanguinetti proclaimed at an NYU campus-safety forum, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
This statement was met with much dissent and inspired more than 3,000 people to march in Toronto weeks later.
Some protestors wore normal attire, while others dressed up in revealing outfits in order to draw attention to “slut-shaming,” or the phenomenon of placing blame on victims of rape.
Protestors assert that this movement is part of a larger “rape culture,” in which we live: a culture that teaches, “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape.”
Sanguinetti later apologized for his words, but not until after he had inspired SlutWalks in more than 50 cities, including Chicago.
The founders of SlutWalk, Sonya JF Barnett and Heather Jarvis, express their opinion on their website: “Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back.”
They go on to say, “[The word] ‘slut’ is being re-appropriated.”
They cite the reworking of the word “queer” from a derogatory term into an identifier of the LGBT community.
The main goal of SlutWalks is not only to change the meaning of “slut,” but also to bring awareness to sexual assault issues.
Jarvis says, “The idea that there is some aesthetic that attracts sexual assault or even keeps you safe from sexual assault is inaccurate, ineffective and even dangerous.”
Many marchers are seen carrying signs with messages like “Proud Slut” or “It’s my hot body, I do what I want.”
Others, however, take a more somber tone, with one that reads, “It was Christmas day. I was 14 and raped in a stairwell wearing showshoes and layers. Did I deserve it, too?”
However, not everyone is supportive of this new feminist movement.
Gail Dines and Wendy J Murphy, writers from the British newspaper The Guardian claim that, “Whether we blame the victims by calling them ‘sluts’ (who thus asked to be raped), or by calling them ‘frigid’ (who thus secretly want to be overpowered) the problem is that we’re blaming them for their own victimization no matter what they do. Encouraging women to be more ‘sluttish’ will not change this ugly reality.”
Still, the movement seems to be growing, now taking place across the globe in places like Australia, Singapore, and New Delhi.
“Not everyone has to chant ‘I’m a slut and I’m proud,’” says co-founder of the movement, Siobhan Conners.
“No matter how you identify yourself even if you consider yourself a sexual person, we’d like to have anyone who is supportive of creating a more positive environment for women and believes that rape shouldn’t be permitted.”
To contact Nicole Creguer, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.